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BHSU volleyball has potential for high performance season

By Antonia Kucera, University Communications intern

Black Hills State University head volleyball coach Jhett Albers is optimistic for a successful 2002 season. Albers has several experienced veterans and some fresh new talent to work with this fall and expects to once again raise the bar in his team’s performance.

The volleyball team has steadily improved with Albers at the helm for the last four years and assistant coach Deb Cano helping for the last two. The team advanced from a 5-19 record in 2000 to 15-17 and fifth place in the Dakota Athletic Conference (DAC-10) in 2002. This year the team hopes to place at least third or fourth in the DAC-10.

“I feel really good about the quality of athletes we have,” said Albers. “The question is if we can gel together as a team and stay away from injury.”

The risk of losing players on a team with only 11 players is not to be taken lightly. Injury will not be a problem if the athletes take preventative measures and do the proper workouts and warm-ups before the season starts; the coaches will play their part by keeping players athletically tuned and well rested, and also by allowing plenty of recovery time if someone is injured.

The roster boasts a list of healthy athletes, however. Albers will have a number of talented and experienced players mixed in with new talents and transfers to work with, and he says it is just a matter of getting them all on the same page to have a strong team.

For starters, there is a hole to fill in leadership with the loss of senior Blakelee Binning, whose eligibility to play is up but will still help the team as a student assistant coach. The most likely candidate for a new leadership role is this season’s only senior, Shanna Moffett, Cody, Wyo., who has already been a powerhouse player on the court.

“[Moffett] is someone to look to for raising the level of the team,” said Albers.

Albers also expects strong performance from junior Alysha Schwarting, Gordon, Neb. Other returning players include: sophomore Kelsey Carver, Lander, Wyo.; sophomore Sara Goeden, Pierre; junior Brittany Uffelman, Thermopolis, Wyo.; and junior Jen Shelton, Piedmont.

Albers looks to junior transfer Heather Engleman, San Jacinto, Cal., to be one of the stronger players in the conference. Engleman was selected as a two-time all-tournament player in Region IX and was designated a Division I first-team NJCAA All-American her sophomore year at Western Nebraska Community College, Scottsbluff, Neb. Albers also recruited sophomore June Engler, a transfer from St. Cloud State University in Minnesota.

Freshman recruits include: Devin Eppler, a two-time all-state volleyball player from Sundance, Wyo.; Allison Rodman, an all-conference and all-state player from Gillette, Wyo.; and Callie Ackerman from Hulett, Wyo.

With new talents Engleman and Engler adding to the experience of Moffett, Albers says the outside hitting position will be where most of the team’s offensive power resides. Moffett will also lend her prowess along with teammates Schwarting and Eppler to a new position in volleyball this year: the Libero player.

“With the addition of the Libero position, we should be very strong in the back row,” said Albers.

This new position allows a player, designated by a different colored jersey, to enter the game any time play stops. This position plays the back row and can only pass or dig; she is not allowed to attack, set or serve. For this position, Albers chose players with the most consistent passing and defense.

Overall, Albers expects the team to be more balanced offensively, more consistent in positions, and quicker and more aggressive defensively. The team is getting more experienced and mature and should be a force to reckon with on the court.

“If we can turn our potential into performance,” Albers said, ”we’ll have a successful season.”

Look for home court volleyball action to start this fall with the Lady Jacket’s first home game against Minot State University at 7 p.m. Sept. 11.

The Black Hills State University 2002 volleyball team is, front row, left to right: Allison Rodman, Gillette, Wyo.; Shana Moffett, Cody, Wyo.; Alysha Schwarting, Gordon, Neb.; Devin Eppler, Sundance, Wyo.; and Callie Ackerman, Hulett, Wyo.; back row, left to right: assistant coach Deb Cano; student assistant coach Blakelee Binning, Pine Bluffs, Wyo.; Sara Goeden, Pierre; Jen Shelton, Piedmont; Brittany Uffelman, Thermopolis, Wyo.; Kelsey Carver, Lander, Wyo.; Heather Engleman, San Jacinto, Cal.; June Engler, St. Cloud, Minn.; and head coach Jhett Albers.

 

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